Cleveland: W.J. Morgan & Co. Lith. [ca. 1884]. Color lithograph. 42 x 28 1/4 inches (106.75 x 71.75 cm). First edition. A very good copy, margin restored at the left edge, spotting to top margin, remnant of text banner affixed to bottom (Condition B+). Item #43305
Illustrated with five vignettes of Mrs. Partington in action. Mrs. Partington, the American version of Mrs. Malaprop, was the creation of the Boston writer Benjamin Penhallow Shillaber (1814–1890). She appeared in three of this works: Life and Sayings of Mrs. Partington (1854); Partingtonian Patchwork (1873); and Ike and his Friends (1879). "The book... was a favorite of [Mark Twain's]. He probably intended the picture of Mrs. P[artington] on the last page of Tom Sawyer as both a tribute to Shillaber and an acknowledgment of the kinship between the two aunts and their mischievous nephews" (Stephen Railton: Mark Twain in His Times, Tom Sawyer, Sources & Pretexts: twain.lib.virginia.edu/tomsawye/tomhompg.html). The character appeared on the stage as early as 1862 at Barnum's American Museum. The actor / comedian Joseph H. Keane toured with this operetta adaptation in the 1880s and was advertised in 1884 as "A genuine New England home picture in four acts and a hundred laughable tableaux, founded on the mythical career of mirth-provoking conversations of that famous old lady, the pranks of her mischievous son Ike, and perhaps of her acquaintances which are familiar ideals in every household in the land." The poster was most likely for this 1884 tour, which played at the Fulton Opera House in February. As Will Howe wrote: "Her benevolent face, her use of catnip tea, her faith in the almanac, her domestic virtue, and her knowledge of the most significant facts in the life of every person in the village immediately made a large circle of readers recognize the lifelike portrayal of a person known in every American community. It is interesting to observe that her nephew Ike and his experience with the dog and cat and with “spirits” is a striking prototype of Tom Sawyer in his relationship to his Aunt Polly" ("Early Humorists, The Cambridge History of American Literature/Book II/Chapter XIX, p. 155). Rare. We could locate no copies of this or any other posters for any production of Mrs. Partington despite its popularity. The Univ. of Chicago has a playbill for an April 21, 1884 production at the Chicago Museum.